Doom in action
A still from one version of Doom's advertising campaign.
  • Insecticide Doom has offered to include a safety message to an advertisement featuring a pizza.
  • It will now advise users not to spray Doom on food, even though it doesn’t think they were likely to do so.
  • The fact that the ad shows a black person both eating pizza and spraying Doom is not in and of itself offensive, advertising regulator the ARB ruled.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Doom will be including a warning to not to spray its insecticide onto food in new versions of an advertisement featuring a person eating pizza.

People can be trusted to understand that insecticide is not intended for human consumption, Doom’s makers Tiger Consumer Brands told the Advertising Regulatory Bureau (ARB), but it will attach a safety warning anyway.

That will read: “DO NOT SPRAY ON FOOD. PRECAUTIONS SHOULD BE TAKEN NOT TO EXPOSE FOOD TO THE PRODUCT.”

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The change follows a complaint to the ARB which questioned why the ad shows a black person using Doom, and whether it was “because they are ‘stupid’ enough to use [D]oom on food” the ARB said in a newly-published ruling.

The television ad features a black pizza-eater reaching for Doom to fend off a flying insect. Versions of the campaign are available online.

Tiger Brands said it used a black actor because black people make up the majority of South Africa’s population. After some demographic research of its own, the ARB accepted the justification that using a black person is intended to reach the broadest available market.

"Indeed, the casting of a black person in any role in any advertisement can never, on its own, amount to an offensive act of racism, it said. "This would apply to any race. There would need to be something more."

It did not find that something more. Instead its directorate found that it is not clear whether the ad shows “spraying the Doom directly on the food and consequently, nothing in the advertisement indicates that the person is being ‘stupid’.

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“However, even if one were to accept that the character in the consumer is displaying stupid behaviour, there is nothing in the commercial that implies that he is doing so because he is black. This implication or statement would be necessary to lead to a reasonable ground of offence.”

(Compiled by Phillip de Wet)

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